Having ended the war, the Soviet Republic turned to the work of peaceful economic development. The wounds of war had to be healed. The shattered economic life of the country had to be rebuilt, its industry, railways and agriculture restored.
But the work of peaceful development had to be undertaken in extremely difficult circumstances. The victory in the Civil War had not been an easy one. The country had been reduced to a state of ruin by four years of imperialist war and three years of war against the intervention.
The gross output of agriculture in 1920 was only about one-half of the pre-war output – that of the poverty-stricken Russian countryside of tsarist days. To make matters worse, in 1920 there was a harvest failure in many of the provinces. Agriculture was in sore straits.
Even worse was the plight of industry, which was in a state of complete dislocation. The output of large-scale industry in 1920 was a little over one-seventh of pre-war. Most of the mills and factories were at a standstill; mines and collieries were wrecked and flooded. Gravest of all was the condition of the iron and steel industry. The total output of pig-iron in 1921 was only 116,300 tons, or about 3 per cent of the pre-war output. There was a shortage of fuel. Transport was disrupted. Stocks of metal and textiles in the country were nearly exhausted. There was an acute shortage of such prime necessities as bread, fats, meat, footwear, clothing, matches, salt, kerosene, and soap.
While the war was on, people put up with the shortage and scarcity, and were sometimes even oblivious to it. But now that the war was over, they suddenly felt that this shortage and scarcity were intolerable and began to demand that they be immediately remedied.
Discontent appeared among the peasants. The fire of the Civil War had welded and steeled a military and political alliance of the working class and the peasantry. This alliance rested on a definite basis: the peasants received from the Soviet Government land and protection against the landlords and kulaks; the workers received from the peasantry foodstuffs under the surplus-appropriation system. Now this basis was no longer adequate.
The Soviet state had been compelled to appropriate all surplus produce from the peasants for the needs of national defence. Victory in the Civil War would have been impossible without the surplus-appropriation system, without the policy of War Communism. This policy was necessitated by the war and intervention. As long as the war was on, the peasantry had acquiesced in the surplus-appropriation system and had paid no heed to the shortage of commodities; but when the war ended and there was no longer any danger of the landlords returning, the peasants began to express dissatisfaction with having to surrender all their surpluses, with the surplus-appropriation system, and to demand a sufficient supply of commodities.
As Lenin pointed out, the whole system of War Communism had come into collision with the interests of the peasantry.
The spirit of discontent affected the working class as well. The proletariat had borne the brunt of the Civil War, had heroically and self-sacrificingly fought the Whiteguard and foreign hordes, and the ravages of economic disruption and famine. The best, the most class-conscious, self-sacrificing and disciplined workers were inspired by Socialist enthusiasm. But the utter economic disruption had its influence on the working class, too. The few factories and plants still in operation were working spasmodically. The workers were reduced to doing odd jobs for a living, making cigarette lighters and engaging in petty bartering for food in the villages ("bag-trading"). The class basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat was being weakened; the workers were scattering, decamping for the villages, ceasing to be workers and becoming declassed. Some of the workers were beginning to show signs of discontent owing to hunger and weariness.
The Party was confronted with the necessity of working out a new line of policy on all questions affecting the economic life of the country, a line that would meet the new situation.
And the Party proceeded to work out such a line of policy on questions of economic development.
But the class enemy was not dozing. He tried to exploit the distressing economic situation and the discontent of the peasants for his own purposes. Kulak revolts, engineered by Whiteguards and Socialist-Revolutionaries, broke out in Siberia, the Ukraine and the Tambov province (Antonov's rebellion). All kinds of counter-revolutionary elements – Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Anarchists, Whiteguards, bourgeois nationalists – became active again. The enemy adopted new tactics of struggle against the Soviet power. He began to borrow a Soviet garb, and his slogan was no longer the old bankrupt "Down with the Soviets!" but a new slogan: "For the Soviets, but without Communists!"
A glaring instance of the new tactics of the class enemy was the counter-revolutionary mutiny in Kronstadt. It began in March 1921, a week before the Tenth Party Congress. Whiteguards, in complicity with Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and representatives of foreign states, assumed the lead of the mutiny. The mutineers at first used a "Soviet" signboard to camouflage their purpose of restoring the power and property of the capitalists and landlords. They raised the cry: "Soviets without Communists!" The counter-revolutionaries tried to exploit the discontent of the petty bourgeois masses in order to overthrow the power of the Soviets under a pseudo-Soviet slogan.
Two circumstances facilitated the outbreak of the Kronstadt mutiny: the deterioration in the composition of the ships' crews, and the weakness of the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt. Nearly all the old sailors who had taken part in the October Revolution were at the front, heroically fighting in the ranks of the Red Army. The naval replenishments consisted of new men, who had not been schooled in the revolution. These were a perfectly raw peasant mass who gave expression to the peasantry's discontent with the surplus-appropriation system. As for the Bolshevik organization in Kronstadt, it had been greatly weakened by a series of mobilizations for the front. This enabled the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Whiteguards to worm their way into Kron-stadt and to seize control of it.
The mutineers gained possession of a first-class fortress, the fleet, and a vast quantity of arms and ammunition. The international counterrevolutionaries were triumphant. But their jubilation was premature. The mutiny was quickly put down by Soviet troops. Against the Kron-stadt mutineers the Party sent its finest sons – delegates to the Tenth Congress, headed by Comrade Voroshilov. The Red Army men advanced on Kronstadt across a thin sheet of ice; it broke in places and many were drowned. The almost impregnable forts of Kronstadt had to be taken by storm; but loyalty to the revolution, bravery and readiness to die for the Soviets won the day. The fortress of Kronstadt fell before the onslaught of the Red troops. The Kronstadt mutiny was suppressed.
The Central Committee of the Party, its Leninist majority, saw clearly that now that the war was over and the country had turned to peaceful economic development, there was no longer any reason for maintaining the rigid regime of War Communism – the product of war and blockade.
The Central Committee realized that the need for the surplus-appropriation system had passed, that it was time to supersede it by a tax in kind so as to enable the peasants to use the greater part of their surpluses at their own discretion. The Central Committee realized that this measure would make it possible to revive agriculture, to extend the cultivation of grain and industrial crops required for the development of industry, to revive the circulation of commodities, to improve supplies to the towns, and to create a new foundation, an economic foundation for the alliance of workers and peasants.
The Central Committee realized also that the prime task was to revive industry, but considered that this could not be done without enlisting the support of the working class and its trade unions; it considered that the workers could be enlisted in this work by showing them that the economic disruption was just as dangerous an enemy of the people as the intervention and the blockade had been, and that the Party and the trade unions could certainly succeed in this work if they exercised their influence on the working class not by military commands, as had been the case at the front, where commands were really essential, but by methods of persuasion, by convincing it.
But not all members of the Party were of the same mind as the Central Committee. The small opposition groups – the Trotskyites, "Workers' Opposition," "Left Communists," "Democratic-Centralists," etc. – wavered and vacillated in face of the difficulties attending the transition to peaceful economic construction. There were in the Party quite a number of ex-members of the Menshevik, Socialist-Revolutionary, Bund and Borotbist parties, and all kinds of semi-nationalists from the border regions of Russia. Most of them allied themselves with one opposition group or another. These people were not real Marxists, they were ignorant of the laws of economic development, and had not had a Leninist-Party schooling, and they only helped to aggravate the confusion and vacillations of the opposition groups. Some of them thought that it would be wrong to relax the rigid regime of War Communism, that, on the contrary, "the screws must be tightened." Others thought that the Party and the state should stand aside from the economic restoration, and that it should be left entirely in the hands of the trade unions.
It was clear that with such confusion reigning among certain groups in the Party, lovers of controversy, opposition "leaders" of one kind or another were bound to try to force a discussion upon the Party.
And that is just what happened.
The discussion started over the role of the trade unions, although the trade unions were not the chief problem of Party policy at the time.
It was Trotsky who started the discussion and the fight against Lenin, against the Leninist majority of the Central Committee. With the intention of aggravating the situation, he came out at a meeting of Communist delegates to the Fifth All-Russian Trade Union Conference, held at the beginning of November 1920, with the dubious slogans of "tightening the screws" and "shaking up the trade unions." Trotsky demanded that the trade unions be immediately "governmentalized." He was against the use of persuasion in relations with the working class, and was in favour of introducing military methods in the trade unions. Trotsky was against any extension of democracy in the trade unions, against the principle of electing trade union bodies.
Instead of methods of persuasion, without which the activities of working-class organizations are inconceivable, the Trotskyites proposed methods of sheer compulsion, of dictation. Applying this policy wherever they happened to occupy leading positions in the trade unions, the Trotskyites caused conflicts, disunity and demoralization in the unions. By their policy the Trotskyites were setting the mass of the non-Party workers against the Party, were splitting the working class.
As a matter of fact, the discussion on the trade unions was of much broader import than the trade union question. As was stated later in the resolution of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) adopted on January 17, 1925, the actual point at issue was "the policy to be adopted towards the peasantry, who were rising against War Communism, the policy to be adopted towards the mass of the non-Party workers, and, in general, what was to be the approach of the Party to the masses in the period when the Civil War was coming to an end." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ ed., Part I, p. 651.)
Trotsky's lead was followed by other anti-Party groups: the "Workers' Opposition" (Shlyapnikov, Medvedyev, Kollontai and others), the "Democratic-Centralists" (Sapronov, Drobnis, Boguslavsky, Ossinsky, V. Smirnov and others), the "Left Communists" (Bukharin, Preobra-zhensky).
The "Workers' Opposition" put forward a slogan demanding that the administration of the entire national economy be entrusted to an "All-Russian Producers' Congress." They wanted to reduce the role of the Party to nought, and denied the importance of the dictatorship of the proletariat to economic development. The "Workers' Opposition" contended that the interests of the trade unions were opposed to those of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. They held that the trade unions, and not the Party, were the highest form of working-class organization. The "Workers' Opposition" was essentially an anarcho-syndicalist anti-Party group.
The "Democratic-Centralists" (Decists) demanded complete freedom for factions and groupings. Like the Trotskyites, the "Democratic-Centralists" tried to undermine the leadership of the Party in the Soviets and in the trade unions. Lenin spoke of the "Democratic-Centralists" as a faction of "champion shouters," and of their platform as a Socialist-Revolutionary-Menshevik platform.
Trotsky was assisted in his fight against Lenin and the Party by Bukharin. With Preobrazhensky, Serebryakov and Sokolnikov, Bukharin formed a "buffer" group. This group defended and shielded the Trotskyites, the most vicious of all factionalists. Lenin said that Bukharin's behaviour was the "acme of ideological depravity." Very soon, the Bukharinites openly joined forces with the Trotskyites against Lenin.
Lenin and the Leninists concentrated their fire on the Trotskyites as the backbone of the anti-Party groupings. They condemned the Trotskyites for ignoring the difference between trade unions and military bodies and warned them that military methods could not be applied to the trade unions. Lenin and the Leninists drew up a platform of their own, entirely contrary in spirit to the platforms of the opposition groups. In this platform, the trade unions were defined as a school of administration, a school of management, a school of Communism. The trade unions should base all their activities on methods of persuasion. Only then would the trade unions rouse the workers as a whole to combat the economic disruption and be able to enlist them in the work of Socialist construction.
In this fight against the opposition groupings, the Party organizations rallied around Lenin. The struggle took an especially acute form in Moscow. Here the opposition concentrated its main forces, with the object of capturing the Party organization of the capital. But these factionalist intrigues were frustrated by the spirited resistance of the Moscow Bolsheviks. An acute struggle broke out in the Ukrainian Party organizations as well. Led by Comrade Molotov, then the secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine, the Ukrainian Bolsheviks routed the Trotskyites and Shlyapnikovites. The Communist Party of the Ukraine remained a loyal support of Lenin's Party. In Baku, the routing of the opposition was led by Comrade Ordjonikidze. In Central Asia, the fight against the anti-Party groupings were headed by Comrade L. Kaganovich.
All the important local organizations of the Party endorsed Lenin's platform.
On March 8, 1921, the Tenth Party Congress opened. The congress was attended by 694 delegates with vote, representing 732,521 Party members, and 296 delegates with voice but no vote.
The congress summed up the discussion on the trade unions and endorsed Lenin's platform by an overwhelming majority.
In opening the congress, Lenin said that the discussion had been an inexcusable luxury. He declared that the enemies had speculated on the inner Party strife and on a split in the ranks of the Communist Party.
Realizing how extremely dangerous the existence of factional groups was to the Bolshevik Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Tenth Congress paid special attention to Party unity. The report on this question was made by Lenin. The congress passed condemnation on all the opposition groups and declared that they were "in fact helping the class enemies of the proletarian revolution."
The congress ordered the immediate dissolution of all factional groups and instructed all Party organizations to keep a strict watch to prevent any outbreaks of factionalism, non-observance of the congress decision to be followed by unconditional and immediate expulsion from the Party. The congress authorized the Central Committee, in the event of members of that body violating discipline, or reviving or tolerating factionalism, to apply to them all Party penalties, including expulsion from the Central Committee and from the Party.
These decisions were embodied in a special resolution on "Party Unity," moved by Lenin and adopted by the congress.
In this resolution, the congress reminded all Party members that unity and solidarity of the ranks of the Party, unanimity of will of the vanguard of the proletariat were particularly essential at that juncture, when a number of circumstances had, during the time of the Tenth Congress, increased the vacillation among the petty-bourgeois population of the country.
"Notwithstanding this," read the resolution, "even before the general Party discussion on the trade unions, certain signs of factionalism had been apparent in the Party, viz., the formation of groups with separate platforms, striving to a certain degree to segregate and create their own group discipline. All class-conscious workers must clearly realize the perniciousness and impermissibility of factionalism of any kind, for in practice factionalism inevitably results in weakening team work. At the same time it inevitably leads to intensified and repeated attempts by the enemies of the Party, who have fastened themselves onto it because it is the governing party, to widen the cleavage (in the Party) and to use it for counter-revolutionary purposes."
Further, in the same resolution, the congress said:
"The way the enemies of the proletariat take advantage of every deviation from the thoroughly consistent Communist line was most strikingly shown in the case of the Kronstadt mutiny, when the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries and Whiteguards in all countries of the world immediately expressed their readiness to accept even the slogans of the Soviet system, if only they might thereby secure the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, and when the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries in general resorted in Kronstadt to slogans calling for an insurrection against the Soviet Government of Russia ostensibly in the interest of Soviet power. These facts fully prove that the Whiteguards strive, and are able to disguise themselves as Communists, and even as people "more Left" than the Communists, solely for the purpose of weakening and overthrowing the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia. Menshevik leaflets distributed in Petrograd on the eve of the Kronstadt mutiny likewise show how the Mensheviks took advantage of the disagreements in the R.C.P. actually in order to egg on and support the Kronstadt mutineers, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Whiteguards, while claiming to be opponents of mutiny and supporters of the Soviet power, only with supposedly slight modifications."
The resolution declared that in its propaganda the Party must explain in detail the harm and danger of factionalism to Party unity and to the unity of purpose of the vanguard of the proletariat, which is a fundamental condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
On the other hand, the congress resolution stated, the Party must explain in its propaganda the peculiarity of the latest tactical methods employed by the enemies of the Soviet power.
"These enemies," read the resolution, "having realized the hopelessness of counter-revolution under an openly Whiteguard flag, are now doing their utmost to utilize the disagreements within the R.C.P. and to further the counter-revolution in one way or another by transferring the power to the political groupings which outwardly are closest to the recognition of the Soviet power." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part I, pp. 373-74.)
The resolution further stated that in its propaganda the Party "must also teach the lessons of preceding revolutions in which the counter-revolutionaries usually supported the petty-bourgeois groupings which stood closest to the extreme revolutionary Party, in order to undermine and overthrow the revolutionary dictatorship, and thus pave the way for the subsequent complete victory of the counter-revolution, of the capitalists and landlords."
Closely allied to the resolution on "Party Unity" was the resolution on "The Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in our Party," also moved by Lenin and adopted by the congress. In this resolution the Tenth Congress passed condemnation on the so-called "Workers' Opposition." The congress declared that the propaganda of the ideas of the anarcho-syndicalist deviation was incompatible with membership in the Communist Party, and called upon the Party vigorously to combat this deviation.
The Tenth Congress passed the highly important decision to replace the surplus-appropriation system by a tax in kind, to adopt the New Economic Policy (NEP).
This turn from War Communism to NEP is a striking instance of the wisdom and farsightedness of Lenin's policy.
The resolution of the congress dealt with the substitution of a tax in kind for the surplus-appropriation system. The tax in kind was to be lighter than the assessments under the surplus-appropriation system. The total amount of the tax was to be announced each year before the spring sowing. The dates of delivery under the tax were to be strictly specified. All produce over and above the amount of the tax was to be entirely at the disposal of the peasant, who would be at liberty to sell these surpluses at will. In his speech, Lenin said that freedom of trade would at first lead to a certain revival of capitalism in the country. It would be necessary to permit private trade and to allow private manufacturers to open small businesses. But no fears need be entertained on this score. Lenin considered that a certain freedom of trade would give the peasant an economic incentive, induce him to produce more and would lead to a rapid improvement of agriculture; that, on this basis, the state-owned industries would be restored and private capital displaced; that strength and resources having been accumulated, a powerful industry could be created as the economic foundation of Socialism, and that then a determined offensive could be undertaken to destroy the remnants of capitalism in the country.
War Communism had been an attempt to take the fortress of the capitalist elements in town and countryside by assault, by a frontal attack. In this offensive the Party had gone too far ahead, and ran the risk of being cut off from its base. Now Lenin proposed to retire a little, to retreat for a while nearer to the base, to change from an assault of the fortress to the slower method of siege, so as to gather strength and resume the offensive.
The Trotskyites and other oppositionists held that NEP was nothing but a retreat. This interpretation suited their purpose, for their line was to restore capitalism. This was a most harmful, anti-Leninist interpretation of NEP. The fact is that only a year after NEP was introduced Lenin declared at the Eleventh Party Congress that the retreat had come to an end, and he put forward the slogan : "Prepare for an offensive on private capital." (Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXVII (p. 213.)
The oppositionists, poor Marxists and crass ignoramuses in questions of Bolshevik policy as they were, understood neither the meaning of NEP nor the character of the retreat undertaken at the beginning of NEP. We have dealt with the meaning of NEP above. As for the character of the retreat, there are retreats and retreats. There are times when a party or an army has to retreat because it has suffered defeat. In such cases, the army or party retreats to preserve itself and its ranks for new battles. It was no such retreat that Lenin proposed when NEP was introduced, because, far from having suffered defeat or discomfiture, the Party had itself defeated the interventionists and White-guards in the Civil War. But there are other times, when in its advance a victorious party or army runs too far ahead, without providing itself with an adequate base in the rear. This creates a serious danger. So as not to lose connection with its base, an experienced party or army generally finds it necessary in such cases to fall back a little, to draw closer to and establish better contact with its base, in order to provide itself with all it needs, and then resume the offensive more confidently and with guarantee of success. It was this kind of temporary retreat that Lenin effected by the New Economic Policy. Reporting to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International on the reasons that prompted the introduction of NEP, Lenin plainly said, "in our economic offensive we ran too far ahead, we did not provide ourselves with an adequate base," and so it was necessary to make a temporary retreat to a secure rear.
The misfortune of the opposition was that, in their ignorance, they did not understand, and never understood to the end of their days, this feature of the retreat under NEP.
The decision of the Tenth Congress on the New Economic Policy ensured a durable economic alliance of the working class and the peasantry for the building of Socialism.
This prime object was served by yet another decision of the congress – the decision on the national question. The report on the national question was made by Comrade Stalin. He said that we had abolished national oppression, but that this was not enough. The task was to do away with the evil heritage of the past – the economic, political and cultural backwardness of the formerly oppressed peoples. They had to be helped to catch up with Central Russia.
Comrade Stalin further referred to two anti-Party deviations on the national question: dominant-nation (Great-Russian) chauvinism and local nationalism. The congress condemned both deviations as harmful and dangerous to Communism and proletarian internationalism. At the same time, it directed its main blow at the bigger danger, dominant-nation chauvinism, i.e., the survivals and hangovers of the attitude towards the nationalities such as the Great-Russian chauvinists had displayed towards the non-Russian peoples under tsardom.
3. First Results of NEP. Eleventh Party Congress. Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Lenin's Illness. Lenin's Co-Operative Plan. Twelfth Party Congress
The New Economic Policy was resisted by the unstable elements in the Party. The resistance came from two quarters. First there were the "Left" shouters, political freaks like Lominadze, Shatskin and others, who argued that NEP meant a renunciation of the gains of the October Revolution, a return to capitalism, the downfall of the Soviet power. Because of their political illiteracy and ignorance of the laws of economic development, these people did not understand the policy of the Party, fell into a panic, and sowed dejection and discouragement. Then there were the downright capitulators, like Trotsky, Radek, Zinoviev, Sokolnikov, Kamenev, Shlyapnikov, Bukharin, Rykov and others, who did not believe that the Socialist development of our country was possible, bowed before the "omnipotence" of capitalism and, in their endeavour to strengthen the position of capitalism in the Soviet country, demanded far-reaching concessions to private capital, both home and foreign, and the surrender of a number of key positions of the Soviet power in the economic field to private capitalists, the latter to act either as concessionaries or as partners of the state in mixed joint stock companies.
Both groups were alien to Marxism and Leninism.
Both were exposed and isolated by the Party, which passed severe stricture on the alarmists and the capitulators.
This resistance to the Party policy was one more reminder that the Party needed to be purged of unstable elements. Accordingly, the Central Committee in 1921 organized a Party purge, which helped to considerably strengthen the Party. The purging was done at open meetings, in the presence and with the participation of non-Party people. Lenin advised that the Party be thoroughly cleansed "of rascals, bureaucrats, dishonest or wavering Communists, and of Mensheviks who have repainted their 'facade' but who have remained Mensheviks at heart." (Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXVII, p. 13.)
Altogether, nearly 170,000 persons, or about 25 per cent of the total membership, were expelled from the Party as a result of the purge.
The purge greatly strengthened the Party, improved its social composition, increased the confidence of the masses in it, and heightened its prestige. The Party became more closely welded and better disciplined.
The correctness of the New Economic Policy was proved in its very first year. Its adoption served greatly to strengthen the alliance of workers and peasants on a new basis. The dictatorship of the proletariat gained in might and strength. Kulak banditry was almost completely liquidated. The middle peasants, now that the surplus-appropriation system had been abolished, helped the Soviet Government to fight the kulak bands. The Soviet Government retained all the key positions in the economic field: large-scale industry, the means of transport, the banks, the land, and home and foreign trade. The Party achieved a definite turn for the better on the economic front. Agriculture soon began to forge ahead. Industry and the railways could record their first successes. An economic revival began, still very slow but sure. The workers and the peasants felt and perceived that the Party was on the right track.
In March 1922, the Party held its Eleventh Congress. It was attended by 522 voting delegates, representing 532,000 Party members, which was less than at the previous congress. There were 165 delegates with voice but no vote. The reduction in the membership was due to the Party purge which had already begun.
At this congress the Party reviewed the results of the first year of the New Economic Policy. These results entitled Lenin to declare at the congress:
"For a year we have been retreating. In the name of the Party we must now call a halt. The purpose pursued by the retreat has been achieved. This period is drawing, or has drawn, to a close. Now our purpose is different – to regroup our forces." (Ibid., p. 238.)
Lenin said that NEP meant a life and death struggle between capitalism and Socialism. "Who will win?" – that was the question. In order that we might win, the bond between the working class and the peasantry, between Socialist industry and peasant agriculture, had to be made secure by developing the exchange of goods between town and country to the utmost. For this purpose the art of management and of efficient trading would have to be learned.
At that period, trade was the main link in the chain of problems that confronted the Party. Unless this problem were solved it would be impossible to develop the exchange of goods between town and country, to strengthen the economic alliance between the workers and peasants, impossible to advance agriculture, or to extricate industry from its state of disruption.
Soviet trade at that time was still very undeveloped. The machinery of trade was highly inadequate. Communists had not yet learned the art of trade; they had not studied the enemy, the Nepman, or learned how to combat him. The private traders, or Nepmen, had taken advantage of the undeveloped state of Soviet trade to capture the trade in textiles and other goods in general demand. The organization of state and co-operative trade became a matter of utmost importance.
After the Eleventh Congress, work in the economic sphere was resumed with redoubled vigour. The effects of the recent harvest failure were successfully remedied. Peasant farming showed rapid recovery. The railways began to work better. Increasing numbers of factories and plants resumed operation.
In October 1922, the Soviet Republic celebrated a great victory Vladivostok, the last piece of Soviet territory to remain in the hands of the invaders, was wrested by the Red Army and the Far Eastern partisan from the hands of the Japanese.
The whole territory of the Soviet republic having been cleared of interventionists, and the needs of Socialist construction and national defence demanding a further consolidation of the union of the Soviet peoples, the necessity now arose of welding the Soviet republics closer together in a single federal state. All the forces of the people had to be combined for the work of building Socialism. The country had to be made impregnable. Conditions had to be created for the all-round development of every nationality in our country. This required that all the Soviet nations should be brought into still closer union.
In December 1922 the First All-Union Congress of Soviets was held, at which, on the proposal of Lenin and Stalin, a voluntary state union of the Soviet nations was formed – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). Originally, the U.S.S.R. comprised the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (R.S.F.S.R.), the Trancaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (T.S.F.S.R.), the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukr. S.S.R.) and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (B.S.S.R.). Somewhat later, three independent Union Soviet Republics – the Uzbek, Turkmen and Tadjik – were formed in Central Asia. All these republics have now united in a single union of Soviet states – the U.S.S.R. – on a voluntary and equal basis, each of them being reserved the right of freely seceding from the Soviet Union.
The formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics meant the consolidation of the Soviet power and a great victory for the Leninist-Stalinist policy of the Bolshevik Party on the national question.
In November 1922, Lenin made a speech at a plenary meeting of the Moscow Soviet in which he reviewed the five years of Soviet rule and expressed the firm conviction that "NEP Russia will become Socialist Russia." This was his last speech to the country. That same autumn a great misfortune overtook the Party: Lenin fell seriously ill. His illness was a deep and personal affliction to the whole Party and to all the working people. All lived in trepidation for the life of their beloved Lenin. But even in illness Lenin did not discontinue his work. When already a very sick man, he wrote a number of highly important articles. In these last writings he reviewed the work already performed and outlined a plan for the building of Socialism in our country by enlisting the peasantry in the cause of Socialist construction. This contained his co-operative plan for securing the participation of the peasantry in the work of building Socialism.
Lenin regarded co-operative societies in general, and agricultural cooperative societies in particular, as a means of transition – a means within the reach and understanding of the peasant millions – from small, individual farming to large-scale producing associations, or collective farms. Lenin pointed out that the line to be followed in the development of agriculture in our country was to draw the peasants into the work of building Socialism through the co-operative societies, gradually to introduce the collective principle in agriculture, first in the selling, and then in the growing of farm produce. With the dictatorship of the proletariat and the alliance of the working class and the peasantry, with the leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat made secure, and with the existence of a Socialist industry, Lenin said, a properly organized producing cooperative system embracing millions of peasants was the means whereby a complete Socialist society could be built in our country.
In April 1923, the Party held its Twelfth Congress. Since the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks this was the first congress at which Lenin was unable to be present. The congress was attended by 408 voting delegates, representing 386,000 Party members. This was less than was represented at the previous congress, the reduction being due to the fact that in the interval the Party purge had continued and had resulted in the expulsion of a considerable percentage of the Party membership. There were 417 delegates with voice but no vote.
The Twelfth Party Congress embodied in its decisions the recommendations made by Lenin in his recent articles and letters.
The congress sharply rebuked those who took NEP to mean a retreat from the Socialist position, a surrender to capitalism, and who advocated a return to capitalist bondage. Proposals of this kind were made at the congress by Radek and Krassin, followers of Trotsky. They proposed that we should throw ourselves on the tender mercies of foreign capitalists, surrender to them, in the form of concessions, branches of industry that were of vital necessity to the Soviet state. They proposed that we pay the tsarist government's debts annulled by the October Revolution. The Party stigmatized these capitulatory proposals as treachery. It did not reject the policy of granting concessions, but favoured it only in such industries and in such dimensions as would be of advantage to the Soviet state.
Bukharin and Sokolnikov had even prior to the congress proposed the abolition of the state monopoly of foreign trade. The proposal was also based on the conception that NEP was a surrender to capitalism. Lenin had branded Bukharin as a champion of the profiteers, Nepmen and kulaks. The Twelfth Congress firmly repelled the attempts to undermine the monopoly of foreign trade.
The congress also repelled Trotsky's attempt to foist upon the Party a policy towards the peasantry that would have been fatal, and stated that the predominance of small peasant farming in the country was a fact not to be forgotten. It emphatically declared that the development of industry, including heavy industry, must not run counter to the interests of the peasant masses, but must be based on a close bond with the peasants, in the interests of the whole working population. These decisions were an answer to Trotsky, who had proposed that we should build up our industry by exploiting the peasants, and who in fact did not accept the policy of an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry.
At the same time, Trotsky had proposed that big plants like the Putilov, Bryansk and others, which were of importance to the country's defence, should be closed down allegedly on the grounds that they were unprofitable. The congress indignantly rejected Trotsky's proposals.
On Lenin's proposal, sent to the congress in written form, the Twelfth Congress united the Central Control Commission of the Party and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection into one body. To this united body were entrusted the important duties of safeguarding the unity of our Party, strengthening Party and civil discipline, and improving the Soviet state apparatus in every way.
An important item on the agenda of the congress was the national question, the report on which was made by Comrade Stalin. Comrade Stalin stressed the international significance of our policy on the national question. To the oppressed peoples in the East and West, the Soviet Union was a model of the solution of the national question and the abolition of national oppression. He pointed out that energetic measures were needed to put an end to economic and cultural inequality among the peoples of the Soviet Union. He called upon the Party to put up a determined fight against deviations in the national question – Great-Russian chauvinism and local bourgeois nationalism.
The nationalist deviators and their dominant-nation policy towards the national minorities were exposed at the congress. At that time the Georgian nationalist deviators, Mdivani and others, were opposing the Party. They had been against the formation of the Trancaucasian Federation and were against the promotion of friendship between the peoples of Transcaucasia. The deviators were behaving like outright dominant-nation chauvinists towards the other nationalities of Georgia. They were expelling non-Georgians from Tiflis wholesale, especially Armenians; they had passed a law under which Georgian women who married non-Georgians lost their Georgian citizenship. The Georgian nationalist deviators were supported by Trotsky, Radek, Bukharin, Skrypnik and Rakovsky.
Shortly after the congress, a special conference of Party workers from the national republics was called to discuss the national question. Here were exposed a group of Tatar bourgeois nationalists – Sultan-Galiev and others – and a group of Uzbek nationalist deviators – Faizulla Khodjayev and others.
The Twelfth Party Congress reviewed the results of the New Economic Policy for the past two years. They were very heartening results and inspired confidence in ultimate victory.
"Our Party has remained solid and united; it has stood the test of a momentous turn, and is marching on with flying colours," Comrade Stalin declared at the congress.
4. Struggle Against the Difficulties of Economic Restoration. Trotskyites Take Advantage of Lenin's Illness to Increase Their Activity. New Party Discussion. Defeat of the Trotskyites. Death of Lenin. The Lenin Enrolment. Thirteenth Party Congress
The struggle to restore the national economy yielded substantial results in its very first year. By 1924 progress was to be observed in all fields. The crop area had increased considerably since 1921, and peasant farming was steadily improving. Socialist industry was growing and expanding. The working class had greatly increased in numbers. Wages had risen. Life had become easier and better for the workers and peasants as compared with 1920 and 1921.
But the effects of the economic disruption still made themselves felt. Industry was still below the pre-war level, and its development was still far behind the country's demand. At the end of 1923 there were about a million unemployed; the national economy was progressing too slowly to absorb unemployment. The development of trade was being hindered by the excessive prices of manufactured goods, prices which the Nepmen, and the Nepman elements in our trading organizations, were imposing on the country. Owing to this, the Soviet ruble began to fluctuate violently and to fall in value. These factors impeded the improvement of the condition of the workers and peasants.
In the autumn of 1923, the economic difficulties were somewhat aggravated owing to violations of the Soviet price policy by our industrial and commercial organizations. There was a yawning gap between the prices of manufactures and the prices of farm produce. Grain prices were low, while prices of manufacturers were inordinately high. Industry was burdened with excessive overhead costs which increased the price of goods. The money which the peasants received for their grain rapidly depreciated. To make matters worse, the Trotskyite Pyatakov, who was at that time on the Supreme Council of National Economy, gave managers and directors criminal instructions to grind all the profit they could out of the sale of manufactured goods and to force up prices to the maximum, ostensibly for the purpose of developing industry. As a matter of fact, this Nepman policy could only narrow the base of industry and undermine it. It became unprofitable for the peasantry to purchase manufactured goods, and they stopped buying them. The result was a sales crisis, from which industry suffered. Difficulties arose in the payment of wages. This provoked discontent among the workers. At some factories the more backward workers stopped work.
The Central Committee of the Party adopted measures to remove these difficulties and anomalies. Steps were taken to overcome the sales crisis. Prices of consumers' goods were reduced. It was decided to reform the currency and to adopt a firm and stable currency unit, the cher-vonetz. The normal payment of wages was resumed. Measures were outlined for the development of trade through state and co-operative channels and for the elimination of private traders and profiteers.
What was now required was that everybody should join in the common effort, roll up his sleeves, and set to work with gusto. That is the way all who were loyal to the Party thought and acted. But not so the Trotskyites. They took advantage of the absence of Lenin, who was incapacitated by grave illness, to launch a new attack on the Party and its leadership. They decided that this was a favourable moment to smash the Party and overthrow its leadership. They used everything they could as a weapon against the Party: the defeat of the revolution in Germany and Bulgaria in the autumn of 1923, the economic difficulties at home, and Lenin's illness. It was at this moment of difficulty for the Soviet state, when the Party's leader was stricken by sickness, that Trotsky started his attack on the Bolshevik Party. He mustered all the anti-Leninist elements in the Party and concocted an opposition platform against the Party, its leadership, and its policy. This platform was called the Declaration of the Forty-Six Oppositionists. All the opposition groupings – the Trotskyites, Democratic-Centralists, and the remnants of the "Left Communist" and "Workers' Opposition" groups – united to fight the Leninist Party. In their declaration, they prophesied a grave economic crisis and the fall of the Soviet power, and demanded freedom of factions and groups as the only way out of the situation.
This was a fight for the restoration of factionalism which the Tenth Party Congress, on Lenin's proposal, had prohibited.
The Trotskyites did not make a single definite proposal for the improvement of agriculture or industry, for the improvement of the circulation of commodities, or for the betterment of the condition of the working people. This did not even interest them. The only thing that interested them was to take advantage of Lenin's absence in order to restore factions within the Party, to undermine its foundations and its Central Committee.
The platform of the forty-six was followed up by the publication of a letter by Trotsky in which he vilified the Party cadres and levelled new slanderous accusations against the Party. In this letter Trotsky harped on the old Menshevik themes which the Party had heard from him many times before.
First of all the Trotskyites attacked the Party apparatus. They knew that without a strong apparatus the Party could not live and function. The opposition tried to undermine and destroy the Party apparatus, to set the Party members against it, and the young members against the old stalwarts of the Party. In this letter Trotsky played up to the students, the young Party members who were not acquainted with the history of the Party's fight against Trotskyism. To win the support of the students, Trotsky flatteringly referred to them as the "Party's surest barometer," at the same time declaring that the Leninist old guard had degenerated. Alluding to the degeneration of the leaders of the Second International, he made the foul insinuation that the old Bolshevik guard was going the same way. By this outcry about the degeneration of the Party, Trotsky tried to hide his own degeneration and his anti-Party scheming.
The Trotskyites circulated both oppositionist documents, viz., the platform of the forty-six and Trotsky's letter, in the districts and among the Party nuclei and put them up for discussion by the Party membership.
They challenged the Party to a discussion.
Thus the Trotskyites forced a general discussion on the Party, just as they did at the time of the controversy over the trade union question before the Tenth Party Congress.
Although the Party was occupied with the far more important problems of the country's economic life, it accepted the challenge and opened the discussion.
The whole Party was involved in the discussion. The fight took a most bitter form. It was fiercest of all in Moscow, for the Trotskyites endeavoured above all to capture the Party organization in the capital. But the discussion was of no help to the Trotskyites. It only disgraced them. They were completely routed both in Moscow and all other parts of the Soviet Union. Only a small number of nuclei in universities and offices voted for the Trotskyites.
In January 1924 the Party held its Thirteenth Conference. The conference heard a report by Comrade Stalin, summing up the results of the discussion. The conference condemned the Trotskyite opposition, declaring that it was a petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism. The decisions of the conference were subsequently endorsed by the Thirteenth Party Congress and the Fifth Congress of the Communist International. The international Communist proletariat supported the Bolshevik Party in its fight against Trotskyism.
But the Trotskyites did not cease their subversive work. In the autumn of 1924, Trotsky published an article entitled, "The Lessons of October" in which he attempted to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. It was a sheer slander on our Party and its leader, Lenin. This defamatory broadsheet was seized upon by all enemies of Communism and of the Soviet Government. The Party was outraged by this unscrupulous distortion of the heroic history of Bolshevism. Comrade Stalin denounced Trotsky's attempt to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. He declared that "it is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend."
An effective contribution to the ideological defeat of Trotskyism and to the defense of Leninism was Comrade Stalin's theoretical work, Foundations of Leninism published in 1924. This book is a masterly exposition and a weighty theoretical substantiation of Leninism. It was, and is today, a trenchant weapon of Marxist-Leninist theory in the hands of Bolsheviks all over the world.
In the battles against Trotskyism, Comrade Stalin rallied the Party around its Central Committee and mobilized it to carry on the fight for the victory of Socialism in our country. Comrade Stalin proved that Trotskyism had to be ideologically demolished if the further victorious advance to Socialism was to be ensured.
Reviewing this period of the fight against Trotskyism, Comrade Stalin said:
"Unless Trotskyism is defeated, it will be impossible to achieve victory under the conditions of NEP, it will be impossible to convert present-day Russia into a Socialist Russia."
But the successes attending the Party's Leninist policy were clouded by a most grievous calamity which now befell the Party and the working class. On January 21, 1924, Lenin, our leader and teacher, the creator of the Bolshevik Party, passed away in the village of Gorki, near Moscow. Lenin's death was received by the working class of the whole world as a most cruel loss. On the day of Lenin's funeral the international proletariat proclaimed a five-minute stoppage of work. Railways, mills and factories came to a standstill. As Lenin was borne to the grave, the working people of the whole world paid homage to him in overwhelming sorrow, as to a father and teacher, their best friend and defender.
The loss of Lenin caused the working class of the Soviet Union to rally even more solidly around the Leninist Party. In those days of mourning every class-conscious worker defined his attitude to the Communist Party, the executor of Lenin's behest. The Central Committee of the Party received thousands upon thousands of applications from workers for admission to the Party. The Central Committee responded to this movement and proclaimed a mass admission of politically advanced workers into the Party ranks. Tens of thousands of workers flocked into the Party; they were people prepared to give their lives for the cause of the Party, the cause of Lenin. In a brief space of time over two hundred and forty thousand workers joined the ranks of the Bolshevik Party. They were the foremost section of the working class, the most class-conscious and revolutionary, the most intrepid and disciplined. This was the Lenin Enrolment.
The reaction to Lenin's death demonstrated how close are our Party's ties with the masses, and how high a place the Leninist Party holds in the hearts of the workers.
In the days of mourning for Lenin, at the Second Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R., Comrade Stalin made a solemn vow in the name of the Party. He said:
"We Communists are people of a special mould. We are made of a special stuff. We are those who form the army of the great proletarian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin. There is nothing higher than the honour of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the title of member of the Party whose founder and leader is Comrade Lenin....
"Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to hold high and guard the purity of the great title of member of the Party. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will fulfil your behest with honour!...
"Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard the unity of our Party as the apple of our eye. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour!...
"Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to guard and strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will spare no effort to fulfil this behest, too, with honour!...
"Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to strengthen with all our might the alliance of the workers and the peasants. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour!..."Comrade Lenin untiringly urged upon us the necessity of maintaining the voluntary union of the nations of our country, the necessity for fraternal co-operation between them within the framework of the Union of Republics. Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to consolidate and extend the Union of Republics. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that this behest, too, we will fulfil with honour!...
"More than once did Lenin point out to us that the strengthening of the Red Army and the improvement of its condition is one of the most important tasks of our Party.... Let us vow then, comrades, that we will spare no effort to strengthen our Red Army and our Red Navy....
"Departing from us, Comrade Lenin adjured us to remain faithful to the principles of the Communist International. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our lives to strengthen and extend the union of the toilers of the whole world – the Communist International!" (Joseph Stalin, The Lenin Heritage.)
This was the vow made by the Bolshevik Party to its leader, Lenin, whose memory will live throughout the ages.
In May 1924 the Party held its Thirteenth Congress. It was attended by 748 voting delegates, representing a Party membership of 735,88i. This marked increase in membership in comparison with the previous congress was due to the admission of some 250,000 new members under the Lenin Enrolment. There were 416 delegates with voice but no vote.
The congress unanimously condemned the platform of the Trotskyite opposition, defining it as a petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism, as a revision of Leninism, and endorsed the resolutions of the Thirteenth Party Conference on "Party Affairs" and "The Results of the Discussion."
With the purpose of strengthening the bond between town and country, the congress gave instructions for a further expansion of industry, primarily of the light industries, while placing particular stress on the necessity for a rapid development of the iron and steel industry.
The congress endorsed the formation of the People's Commissariat of Internal Trade and set the trading bodies the task of gaining control of the market and ousting private capital from the sphere of trade.
The congress gave instructions for the increase of cheap state credit to the peasantry so as to oust the usurer from the countryside.
The congress called for the maximum development of the co-operative movement among the peasantry as the paramount task in the countryside.
Lastly, the congress stressed the profound importance of the Lenin Enrolment and drew the Party's attention to the necessity of devoting greater efforts to educating the young Party members – and above all the recruits of the Lenin Enrolment – in the principles of Leninism.
For over four years the Bolshevik Party and the working class had been working strenuously along the lines of the New Economic Policy. The heroic work of economic restoration was approaching completion. The economic and political might of the Soviet Union was steadily growing.
By this time the international situation had undergone a change. Capitalism had withstood the first revolutionary onslaught of the masses after the imperialist war. The revolutionary movement in Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland and a number of other countries had been crushed. The bourgeoisie had been aided in this by the leaders of the compromising Social-Democratic parties. A temporary ebb in the tide of revolution set in. There began a temporary, partial stabilization of capitalism in Western Europe, a partial consolidation of the position of capitalism. But the stabilization of capitalism did not eliminate the basic contradictions rending capitalist society. On the contrary, the partial stabilization of capitalism aggravated the contradictions between the workers and the capitalists, between imperialism and the colonial nations, between the imperialist groups of the various countries. The stabilization of capitalism was preparing for a new explosion of contradictions, for new crises in the capitalist countries.
Parallel with the stabilization of capitalism, proceeded the stabilization of the Soviet Union. But these two processes of stabilization were fundamentally different in character. Capitalist stabilization presaged a new crisis of capitalism. The stabilization of the Soviet Union meant a further growth of the economic and political might of the Socialist country.
Despite the defeat of the revolution in the West, the position of the Soviet Union in the international arena continued to grow stronger, although, it is true, at a slower rate.
In 1922, the Soviet Union had been invited to an international economic conference in Genoa, Italy. At the Genoa Conference the imperialist governments, emboldened by the defeat of the revolution in the capitalist countries, tried to bring new pressure to bear on the Soviet Republic, this time in diplomatic form. The imperialists presented brazen demands to the Soviet Republic. They demanded that the factories and plants which had been nationalized by the October Revolution be returned to the foreign capitalists; they demanded the payment of the debts of the tsarist government. In return, the imperialist states promised some trifling loans to the Soviet Government.
The Soviet Union rejected these demands.
The Genoa Conference was barren of result.
The threat of a new intervention contained in the ultimatum of Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary, in 1923, also met with the rebuff it deserved.
Having tested the strength of the Soviet Government and convinced themselves of its stability, the capitalist states began one after another to resume diplomatic relations with our country. In 1924 diplomatic relations were restored with Great Britain, France, Japan and Italy.
It was plain that the Soviet Union had been able to win a prolonged breathing space, a period of peace.
The domestic situation had also changed. The self-sacrificing efforts of the workers and peasants, led by the Bolshevik Party, had borne fruit. The rapid development of the national economy was manifest. In the fiscal year 1924-25, agricultural output had already approached the pre-war level, amounting to 87 per cent of the pre-war output. In 1925 the large-scale industries of the U.S.S.R. were already producing about three-quarters of the pre-war industrial output. In the fiscal year 1924-25, the Soviet Union was able to invest 385,000,000 rubles in capital construction work. The plan for the electrification of the country was proceeding successfully. Socialism was consolidating its key positions in the national economy. Important successes had been won in the struggle against private capital in industry and trade.
Economic progress was accompanied by a further improvement in the condition of the workers and peasants. The working class was growing rapidly. Wages had risen, and so had productivity of labour. The standard of living of the peasants had greatly improved. In 1924-25, the Workers' and Peasants' Government was able to assign nearly 290,000,000 rubles for the purpose of assisting the small peasants. The improvement in the condition of the workers and peasants led to greater political activity on the part of the masses. The dictatorship of the proletariat was now more firmly established. The prestige and influence of the Bolshevik Party had grown.
The restoration of the national economy was approaching completion. But mere economic restoration, the mere attainment of the prewar level, was not enough for the Soviet Union, the land of Socialism in construction. The pre-war level was the level of a backward country. The advance had to be continued beyond that point. The prolonged breathing space gained by the Soviet state ensured the possibility of further development.
But this raised the question in all its urgency: what were to be the perspectives, the character of our development, of our construction, what was to be the destiny of Socialism in the Soviet Union? In what direction was economic development in the Soviet Union to be carried on, in the direction of Socialism, or in some other direction? Should we and could we build a Socialist economic system; or were we fated but to manure the soil for another economic system, the capitalist economic system? Was it possible at all to build a Socialist economic system in the U.S.S.R., and, if so, could it be built in spite of the delay of the revolution in the capitalist countries, in spite of the stabilization of capitalism? Was it at all possible to build a Socialist economic system by way of the New Economic Policy, which, while it was strengthening and augmenting the forces of Socialism in the country in every way, nevertheless still promoted a certain growth of capitalism? How was a Socialist economic system to be constructed, from which end should its construction begin? All these questions confronted the Party towards the end of the restoration period, and no longer as theoretical questions, but as practical questions, as questions of everyday economic policy.
All these questions needed straightforward and plain answers, so that our Party members engaged in the development of industry and agriculture, as well as the people generally, might know in what direction to work, towards Socialism, or towards capitalism.
Unless plain answers were given to these questions, all our practical work of construction would be without perspective, work in the dark, labour in vain.
The Party gave plain and definite answers to all these questions.
Yes, replied the Party, a Socialist economic system could be and should be built in our country, for we had everything needed for the building of a Socialist economic system, for the building of a complete Socialist society. In October 1917 the working class had vanquished capitalism politically, by establishing its own political dictatorship. Since then the Soviet Government had been taking every measure to shatter the economic power of capitalism and to create conditions for the building of a Socialist economic system. These measures were: the expropriation of the capitalists and landlords; the conversion of the land, factories, mills, railways and the banks into public property; the adoption of the New Economic Policy; the building up of a state-owned Socialist industry; and the application of Lenin's co-operative plan. Now the main task was to proceed to build a new, Socialist economic system all over the country and thus smash capitalism economically as well. All our practical work, all our actions must be made to serve this main purpose. The working class could do it, and would do it. The realization of this colossal task must begin with the industrialization of the country. The Socialist industrialization of the country was the chief link in the chain; with it the construction of a Socialist economic system must begin. Neither the delay of the revolution in the West, nor the partial stabilization of capitalism in the non-Soviet countries could stop our advance – to Socialism. The New Economic Policy could only make this task easier, for it had been introduced by the Party with the specific purpose of facilitating the laying of a Socialist foundation for our economic system.
Such was the Party's answer to the question – was the victory of Socialist construction possible in our country?
But the Party knew that the problem of the victory of Socialism in one country did not end there. The construction of Socialism in the Soviet Union would be a momentous turning point in the history of mankind, a victory for the working class and peasantry of the U.S.S.R., marking a new epoch in the history of the world. Yet this was an internal affair of the U.S.S.R. and was only a part of the problem of the victory of Socialism. The other part of the problem was its international aspect. In substantiating the thesis that Socialism could be victorious in one country, Comrade Stalin had repeatedly pointed out that the question should be viewed from two aspects, the domestic and the international. As for the domestic aspect of the question, i.e., the class relations within the country, the working class and the peasantry of the U.S.S.R. were fully capable of vanquishing their own bourgeoisie economically and building a complete Socialist society. But there was also the international aspect of the question, namely, the sphere of foreign relations, the sphere of the relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries, between the Soviet people and the international bourgeoisie, which hated the Soviet system and was seeking the chance to start again armed intervention in the Soviet Union, to make new attempts to restore capitalism in the U.S.S.R. And since the U.S.S.R. was as yet the only Socialist country, all the other countries remaining capitalist, the U.S.S.R. continued to be encircled by a capitalist world, which gave rise to the danger of capitalist intervention. Clearly, there would be a danger of capitalist intervention as long as this capitalist encirclement existed. Could the Soviet people by their own efforts destroy this external danger, the danger of capitalist intervention in the U.S.S.R.? No, they could not. They could not, because in order to destroy the danger of capitalist intervention the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed; and the capitalist encirclement could be destroyed only as a result of victorious proletarian revolutions in at least several countries. It followed from this that the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., as expressed in the abolition of the capitalist economic system and the building of a Socialist economic system, could not be considered a final victory, inasmuch as the danger of foreign armed intervention and of attempts to restore capitalism had not been eliminated, and inasmuch as the Socialist country had no guarantee against this danger. To destroy the danger of foreign capitalist intervention, the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed.
Of course, as long as the Soviet Government pursued a correct policy, the Soviet people and their Red Army would be able to beat off a new foreign capitalist intervention just as they had beaten off the first capitalist intervention of 1918-20. But this would not mean that the danger of new capitalist intervention would be eliminated. The defeat of the first intervention did not destroy the danger of new intervention, inasmuch as the source of the danger of intervention – the capitalist encirclement – continued to exist. Neither would the danger of intervention be destroyed by the defeat of the new intervention if the capitalist encirclement continued to exist.
It followed from this that the victory of the proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries was a matter of vital concern to the working people of the U.S.S.R.
Such was the Party's line on the question of the victory of Socialism in our country.
The Central Committee demanded that this line be discussed at the forthcoming Fourteenth Party Conference, and that it be endorsed and accepted as the line of the Party, as a Party law, binding upon all Party members.
This line of the Party came as a thunderbolt to the oppositionists, above all, because the Party lent it a specific and practical character, linked it with a practical plan for the Socialist industrialization of the country, and demanded that it be formulated as a Party law, as a resolution of the Fourteenth Party Conference, binding upon all Party members.
The Trotskyites opposed this Party line and set up against it the Menshevik "theory of permanent revolution," which it would be an insult to Marxism to call a Marxist theory, and which denied the possibility of the victory of Socialist construction in the U.S.S.R.
The Bukharinites did not venture to oppose the Party line outspokenly. But they furtively set up against it their own "theory" of the peaceful growing of the bourgeoisie into Socialism, amplifying it with a "new" slogan – "Get Rich!" According to the Bukharinites, the victory of Socialism meant fostering and encircling the bourgeoisie, not destroying it.
Zinoviev and Kamenev ventured forth with the assertion that the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. was impossible because of the country's technical and economic backwardness, but they soon found it prudent to hide under cover.
The Fourteenth Party Conference (April, 1925) condemned all these capitulatory "theories" of the open and covert oppositionists and affirmed the Party line of working for the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., adopting a resolution to this effect.
Driven to the wall, Zinoviev and Kamenev preferred to vote for this resolution. But the Party knew that they had only postponed their struggle and had decided to "give battle to the Party" at the Fourteenth Party Congress. They were mustering a following in Leningrad and forming the so-called "New Opposition."
The Fourteenth Party Congress opened in December 1925.
The situation within the Party was tense and strained. Never in its history had there been a case when the whole delegation from an important Party centre like Leningrad had prepared to come out in opposition to their Central Committee.
The congress was attended by 665 delegates with vote and 641 with voice but no vote, representing 643,000 Party members and 445,000 candidate members, or a little less than at the previous congress. The reduction was due to a partial purge, a purge of the Party organizations in universities and offices to which anti-Party elements had gained entrance.
The political report of the Central Committee was made by Comrade Stalin. He drew a vivid picture of the growth of the political and economic might of the Soviet Union. Thanks to the advantages of the Soviet economic system, both industry and agriculture had been restored in a comparatively short space of time and were approaching the pre-war level. But good as these results were, Comrade Stalin proposed that we should not rest there, for they could not nullify the fact that our country still remained a backward, agrarian country. Two-thirds of the total production of the country was provided by agriculture and only one-third by industry. Comrade Stalin said that the Party was now squarely confronted with the problem of converting our country into an industrial country, economically independent of capitalist countries. This could be done, and must be done. It was now the cardinal task of the Party to fight for the Socialist industrialization of the country, for the victory of Socialism.
"The conversion of our country from an agrarian into an industrial country able to produce the machinery it needs by its own efforts – that is the essence, the basis of our general line," said Comrade Stalin.
The industrialization of the country would ensure its economic independence, strengthen its power of defence and create the conditions for the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.
The Zinovievites opposed the general line of the Party. As against Stalin's plan of Socialist industrialization, the Zinovievite Sokolnikov put forward a bourgeois plan, one that was then in vogue among the imperialist sharks. According to this plan, the U.S.S.R. was to remain an agrarian country, chiefly producing raw materials and foodstuffs, exporting them, and importing machinery, which it did not and should not produce itself. As conditions were in 1925, this was tantamount to a plan for the economic enslavement of the U.S.S.R. by the industrially-developed foreign countries, a plan for the perpetuation of the industrial backwardness of the U.S.S.R. for the benefit of the imperialist sharks of the capitalist countries.
The adoption of this plan would have converted our country into an impotent agrarian, agricultural appendage of the capitalist world; it would have left it weak and defenceless against the surrounding capitalist world, and in the end would have been fatal to the cause of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.
The congress condemned the economic "plan" of the Zinovievites as a plan for the enslavement of the U.S.S.R.
Equally unsuccessful were the other sorties of the "New Opposition" as, for instance, when they asserted (in defiance of Lenin) that our state industries were not Socialist industries, or when they declared (again in defiance of Lenin) that the middle peasant could not be an ally of the working class in the work of Socialist construction.
The congress condemned these sorties of the "New Opposition" as anti-Leninist.
Comrade Stalin laid bare the Trotskyite-Menshevik essence of the "New Opposition." He showed that Zinoviev and Kamenev were only harping on the old tunes of the enemies of the Party with whom Lenin had waged so relentless a struggle.
It was clear that the Zinovievites were nothing but ill-disguised Trotskyites.
Comrade Stalin stressed the point that the main task of our Party was to maintain a firm alliance between the working class and the middle peasant in the work of building Socialism. He pointed to two deviations on the peasant question existing in the Party at that time, both of which constituted a menace to this alliance. The first deviation was the one that underestimated and belittled the kulak danger, the second was the one that stood in panic fear of the kulak and underestimated the role of the middle peasant. To the question, which deviation was worse, Comrade Stalin replied: "One is as bad as the other. And if these deviations are allowed to develop they may disintegrate and destroy the Party. Fortunately there are forces in our Party capable of ridding it of both deviations."
And the Party did indeed rout both deviations, the "Left" and the Right, and rid itself of them.
Summing up the debate on the question of economic development, the Fourteenth Party Congress unanimously rejected the capitulatory plans of the oppositionists and recorded in its now famous resolution:
"In the sphere of economic development, the congress holds that in our land, the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat, there is 'every requisite for the building of a complete Socialist society' (Lenin). The congress considers that the main task of our Party is to fight for the victory of Socialist construction in the U.S.S.R."
The Fourteenth Party Congress adopted new Party Rules.
Since the Fourteenth Congress our Party has been called the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) – the C.P.S.U.(B.).
Though defeated at the congress, the Zinovievites did not submit to the Party. They started a fight against the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress. Immediately following the congress, Zinoviev called a meeting of the Leningrad Provincial Committee of the Young Communist League, the leading group of which had been reared by Zinoviev, Za-lutsky, Bakayev, Yevdokimov, Kuklin, Safarov and other double-dealers in a spirit of hatred of the Leninist Central Committee of the Party. At this meeting, the Leningrad Provincial Committee passed a resolution unparalleled in the history of the Y.C.L.: it refused to abide by the decisions of the Fourteenth Party Congress.
But the Zinovievite leaders of the Leningrad Y.C.L. did not in any way reflect the mind of the mass of Young Communist Leaguers of Leningrad. They were therefore easily defeated, and soon the Leningrad organization recovered the place in the Y.C.L. to which it was entitled.
Towards the close of the Fourteenth Congress a group of congress delegates – Comrades Molotov, Kirov, Voroshilov, Kalinin, Andreyev and others – were sent to Leningrad to explain to the members of the Leningrad Party organization the criminal, anti-Bolshevik nature of the stand taken up at the congress by the Leningrad delegation, who had secured their mandates under false pretences. The meetings at which the reports on the congress were made were marked by stormy scenes. An extraordinary conference of the Leningrad Party organization was called. The overwhelming majority of the Party members of Leningrad (over 97 per cent) fully endorsed the decisions of the Fourteenth Party Congress and condemned the anti-Party Zinovievite "New Opposition." The latter already at that time were generals without an army.
The Leningrad Bolsheviks remained in the front ranks of the Party of Lenin-Stalin.
Summing up the results of the Fourteenth Party Congress, Comrade Stalin wrote:
"The historical significance of the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U. lies in the fact that it was able to expose the very roots of the mistakes of the New Opposition, that it spurned their scepticism and sniveling, that it clearly and distinctly indicated the path of the further struggle for Socialism, opened before the Party the prospect of victory, and thus armed the proletariat with an invincible faith in the victory of Socialist construction." (Stalin, Leninism,Vol. I, p. 319.)
The years of transition to the peaceful work of economic restoration constituted one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Bolshevik Party. In a tense situation, the Party was able to effect the difficult turn from the policy of War Communism to the New Economic Policy. The Party reinforced the alliance of the workers and peasants on a new economic foundation. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.
By means of the New Economic Policy, decisive results were obtained in the restoration of the economic life of the country. The Soviet Union emerged from the period of economic restoration with success and entered a new period, the period of industrialization of the country.
The transition from Civil War to peaceful Socialist construction was accompanied by great difficulties, especially in the early stages. The enemies of Bolshevism, the anti-Party elements in the ranks of the C.P.S.U.(B.), waged a desperate struggle against the Leninist Party all through this period. These anti-Party elements were headed by Trotsky. His henchmen in this struggle were Kamenev, Zinoviev and Bukharin. After the death of Lenin, the oppositionists calculated on demoralizing the ranks of the Bolshevik Party, on splitting the Party, and infecting it with disbelief in the possibility of the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. In point of fact, the Trotskyites were trying to form another party in the U.S.S.R., a political organization of the new bourgeoisie, a party of capitalist restoration.
The Party rallied under the banner of Lenin around its Leninist Central Committee, around Comrade Stalin, and inflicted defeat both on the Trotskyites and on their new friends in Leningrad, the Zinoviev-Kamenev New Opposition.
Having accumulated strength and resources, the Bolshevik Party brought the country to a new stage in its history – the stage of Socialist industrialization.Click here to continue to Chapter 10.